Gundolf, Friedrich

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GUNDOLF, FRIEDRICH (pseudonym of Friedrich Gundelfinger , 1880–1931), German literary historian. Following Karl Wolfskehl, Gundolf was one of the earlier disciples of Stefan George and participated in his literary movement. Together with Wolfskehl, with whom he exchanged many letters from 1899 (published in 1977 in 2 vols.), Gundolf belonged to a group of Jewish intellectuals and writers who were strongly attracted by George's integrative cultural concept trying to unify Greek, Jewish, and German culture. But unlike Wolfskehl, Gundolf explicitly distanced himself from Judaism. Prior to his career as a university teacher he published poetry in the Blaetter fuer die Kunst (later also Gedichte, 1930) and worked from 1907 on the 10-volume German translation of Shakespeare's works which appeared under his editorship (1908–18). With his dissertation on Shakespeare in 1911 at the University of Heidelberg, Gundolf turned to an academic career. His scholarly studies covered a wide range. Starting with Shakespeare (Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist, 1911; Shakespeare, 2 vols., 1928), he published books on Goethe (1916), George (1920), Kleist (1922), Opitz (1923), Caesar (1924), Paracelsus (1927), Gryphius (1927), and the Romanticists (Romantiker, 2 vols., 1930–31), violating more and more the narrow normative canon of George, with whom he broke after his book on Kleist. In his decisive anti-positivist biographies of literary figures, Gundolf was not interested so much in the details of their daily lives as in the "spirit" revealed in their creative masterpieces, and he interpreted their unique Gestalt with a reverential awe. His publications still serve as examples of humanistic scholarship and literary style while Gundolf himself is understood as one of the important German-Jewish intellectuals of the beginning of the 20th century.


V.A. Schmitz, Gundolf, eine Einfuehrung in sein Werk (1965); O. Heuschele, Friedrich Gundolf, Werk und Wirken (1947); E. Kahn, in: ylbi, 8 (1963), 171–83; W. Lewin, ibid., 201–8 (Ger., with Eng. summary). add. bibliography: C. Sonino, in: G. Mattenklott et al. (ed.), Verkannte Brueder? (2001), 101–16; C. Blasberg: in: D. Hoffmann (ed.), Handbuch zur deutsch-jüdischen Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts (2002), 81–102; M. Thimann, Caesars Schatten. Die Bibliothek von Friedrich Gundolf (2003).

[Andreas Kilcher (2nd ed.)]